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The infamous jet may return to the airstrip soon.

For over a year now, Boeing’s entire fleet of 737 Max jets have been grounded, with their operation banned. This ban was the result of two major plane crashes in 2018 and 2019, both as a result of the 737 Max’s automated flight control system malfunctioning. Since then, and even during the pandemic, Boeing has been working to fix the 737 Max fleet so the ban can be overturned, an event which is allegedly close at hand.

Boeing’s CEO, Dave Calhoun, announced today that the company is “getting very close to the finish line” on having the 737 Max ban overturned. Boeing had hoped back in July that the ban would be overturned as early as Q4, but based on current projections, it likely won’t happen until early next year. Even so, several travel companies like American Airlines have already begun planning flights utilizing the 737 Max, though it is unknown what they will do if the ban isn’t overturned in time.

Boeing has been making numerous adjustments to the jets, both on their infamous automated systems and elsewhere, in order to ensure inspections pass smoothly. Regulators who have inspected the jets have not publicly reported any new or old problems with the jets, and they are getting close to finishing their review, though formal permission to fly them has not yet been granted. Even when the jets finally receive the green light, pilots will need to be retrained to properly operate them before any flights can take off.

Credit: Unsplash

Getting the ban overturned would be a boon to Boeing, as the company has suffered notable losses due to a combination of excess stock and the COVID-19 pandemic throttling the air travel industry.

“The Max has cost us a lot of money and we’ve had to sort of up the ante with respect to liquidity to make up for the fact that we couldn’t ship the world’s most popular airplane,” Calhoun told CNBC in an interview.